Blogs / Life

Online Sexual Harassment & International Women’s Day

When I first wrote this blog article, I did not even realize that I had scheduled it to be posted on International Women’s Day. The timing could not have been more perfect!

So here’s the deal. Something has been happening more frequently lately and it’s about time that I talk about it. (Warning: This post is a bit more lengthy than my normal posts, but this is such an important topic.)

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Every since I opened my author page on facebook, my instagram author account, and my WordPress, I have had to deal with the unwanted, unsolicited advances of men who seem to think that my professional pages/accounts/sites are their dating venues. It didn’t happen right away, but it also did not take longer than a month for my facebook messenger to get a message from a man who wanted to “get to know me better ;)”

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Not men who wanted to get to know my writing, but wanted to get to know “all about me” with flirty faces and winking emojis. I would say that I get at least one message via facebook or instagram per month. Often times these men do not care that I am not interested or that I’m in a relationship. They want me to know how beautiful they think I am and how they should be involved in  my life.

Unfortunately, this unwanted male attention simply comes with the territory for many, if not most, female author/artists out there. Knowing that I could not be the only one going through this, I reached out on my instagram page to other female authors who have had similar experiences and here’s what they have to say:

Most women will experience unwanted male flirtation and attention in various forms not just once, but multiple times in their lives through their business pages/accounts. WritingBelle says that she has received messages from at least 20 different men in the past couple of years alone. Priya(The Lost Soul) says that for every 6 messages she receives, 2 of them are from men looking to flirt. These men often offer compliments, but not on the women’s writing or on their work. Instead, it’s all about how beautiful they are or wanting to talk and possibly exchange pictures.

Regardless of the fact that these men are offering “compliments,” none of the women I interviewed felt flattered. Three out of three women agreed that it was more annoying than flattering to have a man flirt with them out of the blue. Priya states, “It would be good if the appreciation is about my work rather than any other thing.”

The issue is not the compliment, the issue is what is being complimented. We women are starting our author pages, not fishing for compliments on our physicality, but in order to form real connections in the writing world. The writing world is our profession, our place of business, and it’s simply not appropriate to come to our place of business and use it for your fishing hole.

While I have personally experienced less aggressive men, others have not. Himanshi relates the one time that a man screenshot a picture of her and then sent it to her with a Valentine Wish attached. WritingBelle had an obsessive follower who emailed her monthly declaring all the reasons why they were meant to be together as soul mates for an entire year when she was only 18 years old. Whenever she attempted to block him, he would find her on another social media platform.

The fact of the matter is, this is a social problem that all female authors/artists should be aware of. Here are some ways to combat it:

  • WritingBelle advises, “For me, I do believe that ignoring those men is actually quite effective, because most of them are looking for a reaction so that they can have an excuse to engage in conversation. I have occasionally blocked or banned people.
  • Himanshi suggests, “To ignore such things if they are of light intensity. But do not tolerate shit at any cost.”
  • Priya offers, “I don’t deal much with them. I try to be polite . . . I stop replying to unnecessary messages. I guess that’s what we can do. If it’s going out of the limit, block [them].”
  • My Opinion: I mock. Maybe it’s not the best response, maybe it is too antagonistic, and once I’ve had my say, if they still don’t get the point, I also block them.

However, this is not a man bashing post. I don’t think that all men act this way. In fact some male authors also experience unwanted attention from females. Jamesonwrites enlightened me on the subject, saying, “It’s only happened a very few times . . . I certainly haven’t had the blatant flirting right off the bat as I saw on your post.” However, even Jamesonwrites has had to block one woman from his own site who became obsessed with him and intense in her constant flirting.

Whether female or male, we authors and artists deserve to have a business platform that is not misused by others for a dating venue. I asked Jamesonwries what advice he would give to men who are misusing these author sites and how he would explain that it is wrong.

Jamesonwrites answered, “That’s a hard question because really it seems like such a no brainer that it wouldn’t really do any good. ‘Don’t be an idiot?” Can I say that? . . . I’m sticking with ‘don’t be dumb.’ It’s all I got.”

And indeed, it does sound like common sense, but oh, what’s that? My phone beeping? It’s a message, but it’s a 40/60 chance on my pages that it is not a customer, or someone interested in writing advice or my books. No, it’s probably a man who is interested in getting to know me…

Last Thoughts: Be careful online. Don’t feed the trolls and don’t be afraid to block someone who makes you feel the least bit uncomfortable. Your safety and your mental/emotional well-being come first!

Happy International Woman’s Day!

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